Chelsea’s blog was very eye-opening to the negative effects of addiction!
- I never thought of how transferring knowledge could cross over from something we really value in education, to an addiction. She mentions how Sephrik touches on this. We are always asking students to connect things – to bring worlds together, see comparisons and similarities, use solutions from one context to try to creatively solve in another context, and so on. However, when students literally cannot separate the two – when Minecraft and the desire to play is the first thing going through their head when they hear about running water (instead of learning the physical properties of water and experimenting with and simply enjoying it in the real world) – the thought really worries me! Sephrik specifically mentions how the laws of Minecraft do not match the laws of reality (talking about how things “spawn” or appear in a place, and so on). For students who haven’t had these real world experiences BEFORE the online (fake – essentially imaginary) ones, it can really – for lack of a better phrase – “mess them up”. However, I also think about our play at the daycare, and how lots of what we do is imaginary play, but the kids are into it and think it is real. I remind myself that more life experiences will come and they will soon learn to decipher the differences. I think it is the same, here – students have to have ample experience and teaching in the real world, to balance out the “fake” (but fun) learning they have online. That is up to us as educators to provide a balance – not to take one (the online world) away.
- Probably the biggest revelation I had here, however, is… if students are learning things on Minecraft that can’t even transfer to knowledge in real life (banging at a block and suddenly it turns into something… not true in real life) why would we spend time on it when we have so many edtech resources that are a) fun and b) simulate real life better?
Interesting sidenote: I played Runescape (probably borderline addictively) on and off from the age of seven to the age of nineteen. Sometimes I think of Minecraft I either accidentally type Runescape or come up with some strange combo like Minescape.
Some points in her blog that I found I could rebut are:
- She discusses how it seems to be more of a toy than a game, which I agree with to a point. The main game is open-ended (you need to do some planning and digging to find the puzzles and closed games within the worlds). I am not sure Chelsea if you were arguing that this is a negative towards it as an edtech resource. I see it as a positive, because our current education system puts a lot of emphasis on open-ended learning, so it only makes sense to have an open-ended platform where students really need to reflect on what they are wanting to get out of it.
- She also mentions that it is easy to lose track of time – that could be a perfect real-world edtech problem for students to tackle and brainstorm solutions to. If we are getting too involved in something, what time management strategies could we use to pull ourselves back? We could think about setting alarms, getting friends to contact us (distract us out of distraction) and so on – much like we, as adults, need to do on a daily basis as we balance work, family time, fun time, etc.
Lastly, I was very excited that she did a fairly even assessment of it, and so even though I learned about the “other side of the argument”, I still managed to get a resource (MineMum, recommended by Chelsea) that could help me further my own argument towards using it as an edtech resource. What stood out to me the most on her site was 10 things parents can appreciate about Minecraft. I learned about social scripting, or making up scenarios online that students can basically “roleplay” online to problem solve – is that not a cool way to teach some Health lessons? MineMum explains, “Each time I go into his [my son’s] shop, I modify what I say slightly. I veer off-script, ask for things he doesn’t have, throw in a problem here and there. And when he comes into my shop, I do the same thing – tell him I don’t have the thing that he wants, ask him to pay me in a smaller denomination. He copes with these changes because in Minecraft he is confident and capable. He knows what he’s doing, and is much more keen to communicate with me there than in real life.”
Lastly I wanted to link to a conversation that happened on my Twitter feed when I posted my original blog post:
— Taylor Harder (@trharder94) March 12, 2017
Kelly draws attention to the fact that some students (such as his daughter) don’t like using computer games as a form of learning, and also the wider idea that not all kids like Minecraft. I don’t like it because of the the migraines the fast-paced 3D action gives me. If it doesn’t motivate students, is it worth teaching? Shae and Brittany both touch on how knowing your students matters.